[Trigger warning for rape culture.]
So there's this new Marilyn Monroe sculpture in Chicago, which was finally unveiled in all its dubious glory today after spending about a week with a bag over its head. (Seriously.)
I find this sculpture suuuuuuuuuper depressing not only for the reasons elucidated here by Mary Schmich:
Chicago, a city that has almost as many statues as it has potholes, is notoriously short on statues of women. Mile after magnificent mile, our city teems with large reproductions of presidents, philosophers, sports stars, warriors and saints, almost every one a man.—and by ChicagoNow blogger Abraham Ritchie:
Finally, we get a highly visible statue of a woman. Twenty-six-feet tall. Looming next to North Michigan Avenue at the Chicago River. As obvious as a skyscraper.
...Its only distinguishing feature is its size, which brings to mind some 1950s B movie about giant women.
What's most disturbing about the sculpture, though, is not that it's mediocre. It's the fact that Marilyn Monroe was real. She wasn't a sci-fi amazon. She was more than an image. She was a real woman who died at the age of 36 of a drug overdose, perhaps by suicide. Inviting people to leer at her giant underpants is just icky.
"This work is totally objectifying," said Ritchie when I called him Thursday, curious about his perspective as a young male art critic. "It's not even the subtle eroticism of a pinup of the 1950s or of the original photo. It's a stiff representation of sexual voyeurism."—but also because this gargantuan mockery of Marilyn Monroe, a real woman whose untimely death froze her as an icon of perpetual youth and sexuality in spite of, because of, her documented struggles with being objectified and exploited, is an invitation for "hilarious" displays of male sexual aggression. The link goes to a photo gallery in which men and boys are pictured standing between her legs giving the thumbs up, standing in a way to be photographed to appear to be grabbing her ass, turning their faces up and pretending to lick her, etc.
She is a a giant, silent avatar of non-consent, posed forever to be a sexual object for the pleasure of passers-by.
[H/Ts to Shakers Daniel and @knitmeapony.]